left hand control for right-handed drummers

There's an old adage in the drumming community which says, "When it comes to technique, you're only as good as your left hand." This saying assumes, of course, that you are right-handed. Few of us are lucky enough to be ambidextrous, so most drummers, especially in their early years of study, discover themselves somewhat hampered when it comes to playing fast and extended single, open double, and triple-stroke rolls.This problem relates directly to the inability of the left hand stick to keep up with the stick in the right hand. And the problem is not confined to just players in their early stages of learning--it can plague even professional drummers throughout their career.

There are many different reasons for this vexing situation, and the problem is very individual, so the answer to overcoming it may be very different for different players. Suffice to say that for many, just one of the main problems is associated with the muscles in the left forearm tightening as one tries to execute continual strokes at an increasingly fast tempo. My advice is, when you're practicing to develop hand speed, keep both your arms as relaxed as possible, and never try to increase your speed once you feel any muscle tightening begin.

I've taught hundreds of players for more years than I care to remember, and I've found that the following simple exercises have proved extremely effective in helping to develop left hand control. The majority of the exercises have to do with accenting eighth notes and eighth note triplets with the left stick. Playing accents is an excellent way of building strength in the hand which, in turn, will lead to greater speed and control. After the accent exercises are a further group of exercises with special sticking focusing predominantly on the left hand.

There are literally thousands of exercises that can be devised to help develop left hand control, but the ones notated here should be sufficient initially for getting you started. If you happen to be a southpaw, the problem would be with the right hand, so simply reverse all the sticking.

Contacting a good teacher, of course, is the best way forward. A teacher can pinpoint problems that are particular to an individual, and select exercises to overcome the problem. So if you are not already taking lessons, I strongly urge you to do so.

For an in-depth presentation of all aspects of technique, along with hundreds of exercises, I suggest my book, BASIC TECHNIQUE AND BEYOND

Good luck!